Instagram’s 'Sensitive Content' Filters Are Trigger Warnings

Now you have to tap to see.  

by Monica Hunter-Hart
Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Instagram included a bombshell announcement amid the new updates: It has just added a graphic content filter.

The platform has begun shielding certain photos and videos with a warning screen reading: “This photo contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing.” If you wish to view the content, you can still tap to see it.

The screens are essentially Instagram’s version of trigger warnings, though the platform may be trying to avoid using that controversial label. Users will report photos that they think warrant a cautionary screen, and then Instagram’s “review team” will decide whether to employ it. In a written response to Inverse, Instagram did not reply to a question asking whether the review team will publicize their criteria for ultimately applying the screen.

The screens will only be used on “graphic or violent content,” Instagram tells Inverse. Its policy regarding other content it has previously deemed “sensitive” is unchanged.

An example provided by Instagram

Photo via Instagram

That’s notable because Instagram has often come under fire for its treatment of “sensitive” content, like nudity. Many have criticized Instagram’s double standard in permitting photos of male nipples but not female nipples (unless the women are “actively engaged in breastfeeding” or “showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring,” or there is a clear and “specific social context”).

Instagram provided Inverse with examples of content that might be given a warning screen, including “animal rights groups that share content to expose animal testing conditions or animal abuse or content that raises awareness of humanitarian crises around the world (famine, impact of war on local communities).”

In a statement about its new updates, Instagram explains that the screens will ensure that users are “less likely to have surprising or unwanted experiences in the app.”